Coast Guard preparing for Hurricane Irma - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Coast Guard preparing for Hurricane Irma

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The Coast Guard says do not fight this hurricane, and leave the flight to them. 

We joined the team in one of their choppers Thursday for a first-hand look at how their flights are key in the aftermath of a hurricane. It may look like a small aircraft, but it plays a big part in rescue missions following a hurricane. 

Multiple crew members assisted in Houston following Harvey. Now, they're preparing for rescue missions here at home as Hurricane Irma approaches the coast. Lt. Andrew Moravec says hurricane season takes a toll on their men and women, but their main priority - always - is human lives. 

When the Coast Guard gets the call saying 'May Day, May Day,' they suit up, load up, and it's their job to come to the rescue and bring you back to safety. Taking the time to prepare for a rescue is crucial. During preflight, they make sure weather conditions are safe, the aircraft is ready, and all crew knows what to do in the case of an emergency. 

"There's a lot of stuff going on. The tide shift is one of the things that adds a lot to our rescue pools; people getting stuck," said Lt. Moravec. 

In these rescues, everyone has a role. 

"The swimmers, basically in a vital situation, it's our job to get the swimmers on scene. Then, the swimmer assesses the situation and determines the best way to handle the situation," Lt. Moravec said. 

"We are the Lowcountry, so all this marsh land. Any storm surge, a lot of this marshland ends up getting covered in water."

As Irma continues to surge ahead to land, the Coast Guard says do not take safety lightly. 

"This is not going to be Matthew. This is going to be much more significant than Matthew, so people really need to take this seriously in the lead-up to it," said Lt. Moravec. 

If the damage is serious, they say they're ready. 

"We're going to surge helicopters. We're going to surge boats. We're going to surge crews, and we're going to be prepared to take on whatever the hurricane leaves in its path," Lt. Moravec said. 

If you're in a boat and need help...

"If you do need to get us, we are a maritime service so Coast Guard is always monitoring channel 16."

They will also continue to monitor this storm, and how they need to prepare to help you. 

The Coast Guard says they're here to help if you need them but take all evacuation warnings seriously. They say your house and everything you own can be replaced. Your life can't. 

"Priority is life. Property is secondary to that. From there, we have infrastructure. Shipping channels will get reopened as our second priority to get commerce flowing again, and then the reconstruction of Coast Guard facilities and getting them fully-operational again," said Lt. Moravec. 

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